Phantom India: The Indian and the Sacred
1969, France, Louis Malle, 52 min.
Presented in association with The Criterion Collection
Free to Members
The 1969 documentary Phantom India is Louis Malle’s seven-part portrait of India. It serves as an investigation into the country’s sociopolitical landscape, traditions, and people, as well as a furthering Malle’s self-discovery as a non-fiction filmmaker.
This third episode of Phantom India explores the contradictions and paradoxes of Indian religion. Opening with a yogi who has pierced his entire body with giant needles -"The Indians and the Sacred" then segues into a trip to see a giant statue of Nandi the Bull, and then into southern India, for a glimpse of more idiosyncratic and tightly-knit Indian belief systems. Later, Malle and his team visit the temple of Madurai, tour a garbhagrilha, and greet the saddhus, who mingle with, and are possessed by, powerful and occasionally malevolent spirits.
Post-screening discussion with Rubin Museum of Art Assistant Curator Beth Citron.